Ovid's Metamorphoses gains its ideal twenty-first-century herald in Stanley Lombardo's bracing translation of a wellspring of Western art and literature that is too often treated, even by poets, as a mere vehicle for the scores of myths it recasts and transmits rather than as a unified work of art with epic-scale ambitions of its own. Such misconceptions are unlikely to survive a reading of Lombardo's rendering, which vividly mirrors the brutality, sadness, comedy, irony, tenderness, and eeriness of Ovid's vast world as well as the poem's effortless pacing. Under Lombardo's spell, neither Argus nor anyone else need fear nodding off. The translation is accompanied by an exhilarating Introduction by W. R. Johnson that unweaves and reweaves many of the poem's most important themes while showing how the poet achieves some of his most brilliant effects. An analytical table of contents, a catalog of transformations, and a glossary are also included.
Should any one of the people not know the art of loving, let him read me; and taught by me, on reading my lines, let him love. By art the ships are onward sped by sails and oars; by art are the light chariots, by art is Love, to be guided. In the chariot and in the flowing reins was Automedon skilled: in the Hæmonian ship of Jason Tiphys was the pilot. Me, too, skilled in my craft, has Venus made the guardian of Love. Of Cupid the Tiphys and the Automedon shall I be styled. Unruly indeed he is, and one who oft rebels against me; but he is a child; his age is tender and easy to be governed.
In the year A.D. 8, Emperor Augustus sentenced the elegant, brilliant, and sophisticated Roman poet Ovid to exile—permanently, as it turned out—at Tomis, modern Constantza, on the Romanian coast of the Black Sea. The real reason for the emperor's action has never come to light, and all of Ovid's subsequent efforts to secure either a reprieve or, at the very least, a transfer to a less dangerous place of exile failed. Two millennia later, the agonized, witty, vivid, nostalgic, and often slyly malicious poems he wrote at Tomis remain as fresh as the day they were written, a testament for exiles everywhere, in all ages.
The two books of the Poems of Exile, the Lamentations (Tristia) and the Black Sea Letters (Epistulae ex Ponto), chronicle Ovid's impressions of Tomis—its appalling winters, bleak terrain, and sporadic raids by barbarous nomads—as well as his aching memories and ongoing appeals to his friends and his patient wife to intercede on his behalf. While pretending to have lost his old literary skills and even to be forgetting his Latin, in the Poems of Exile Ovid in fact displays all his virtuoso poetic talent, now concentrated on one objective: ending the exile. But his rhetorical message falls on obdurately deaf ears, and his appeals slowly lose hope. A superb literary artist to the end, Ovid offers an authentic, unforgettable panorama of the death-in-life he endured at Tomis.
In the twenty-one poems of the Heroides, Ovid gave voice to the heroines and heroes of epic and myth. These deeply moving literary epistles reveal the happiness and torment of love, as the writers tell of their pain at separation, forgiveness of infidelity or anger at betrayal. The faithful Penelope wonders at the suspiciously long absence of Ulysses, while Dido bitterly reproaches Aeneas for too eagerly leaving her bed to follow his destiny, and Sappho - the only historical figure portrayed here - describes her passion for the cruelly rejecting Phaon. In the poetic letters between Paris and Helen the lovers seem oblivious to the tragedy prophesied for them, while in another exchange the youthful Leander asserts his foolhardy eagerness to risk his life to be with his beloved Hero.
One of ancient Rome's most celebrated poets, Ovid (43 B.C.–A.D. 18) wrote during the reign of Augustus. His works reflect a sentiment of art for pleasure's sake, without the ethical or moral overtones, which perhaps accounts for his enduring popularity. For more than two thousand years, readers have delighted in Ovid's playful eloquence; his influence on other writers has ranged from Dante and Chaucer to Shakespeare and Milton, and scenes from his stories have inspired many great works by Western artists. This selection of thirty stories from the verse translation by F. A. Wright of Ovid's famous work, The Metamorphoses, does full justice to the poet's elegance and wit. All of the tales involve a form of metamorphosis, or transformation, and are peopled by mythological gods, demigods, and mortals: Venus and Adonis, Pygmalion, Apollo and Daphne, Narcissus, Perseus, and Andromeda, Orpheus and Eurydice, the Cyclops, and Circe, among others. Although most of the stories did not originate with Ovid, it is quite possible that had he not written them down, these oral traditions would have been lost forever — and with them, a vast and valuable amount of Greco-Roman culture. This collection of the poet's best and most beloved narrative verses reflects the vitality of classical mythology. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Written after he had been banished to the Black Sea city of Tomis by Emperor Augustus, the Fasti is Ovid's last major poetic work. Both a calendar of daily rituals and a witty sequence of stories recounted in a variety of styles, it weaves together tales of gods and citizens together to explore Rome's history, religious beliefs and traditions. It may also be read as a subtle but powerful political manifesto which derides Augustus' attempts to control his subjects by imposing his own mythology upon them: after celebrating the emperor as a Jupiter-on-earth, for example, Ovid deliberately juxtaposes a story showing the king of the gods as a savage rapist. Endlessly playful, this is also a work of integrity and courage, and a superb climax to the life of one of Rome's greatest writers.
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